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Is it worth spending more on your iron?

Reduce how long you spend at the ironing board with the latest steam iron and generators for all budgets

Ironing is Britain’s least favourite household chore, according to a YouGov poll released earlier in the year.* 50% of us dislike it – more than any other housework – and only 16% of us claim to actually enjoy it. 

Unless you fall into this minority of happy ironers, the temptation might be to spend as little as possible on an iron – but would parting with a little more cash make this chore easier and cut the time spent at the ironing board?

In our most recent round of iron tests, we pitted some models costing as little as £20 against some that will set you back £85. Interestingly, the cheapest ones didn’t always perform worst.

If you choose carefully, you could find a cheap iron that does a faster job than a more expensive counterpart and saves you time as well as money.

For our round-up of the best cheap irons that perform well, take a look at our top five cheap steam irons.

How to pick the best steam iron

So how do you choose an iron that will keep your time at the ironing board to a minimum? You can’t tell how good an iron is just by looking at it, which is where our reviews – based on exhaustive tests – are invaluable.

For something that’s quick and easy to use, start by looking at each model’s ironing performance star rating. This reflects the time and effort required to use each one, so opt for a five-star model for minimum hassle.

The steamier an iron the better, as the hot moisture relaxes fibres and makes them easier to iron. But irons that start off well can lose their touch as they clog up with limescale. To get our limescale-resistance star rating, we simulate three months of use and track the drop-off in steaminess – a high-scoring model will remain as quick and easy to use as it was when brand new.

Hard water contains minerals that form limescale, so if you live in a hard-water area look for an iron with a built-in anti-calc system or self-clean function. The cheapest iron we tested this time around is the John Lewis Steam Iron (£20), which has a self-clean button to help keep the vents clear. If you’re willing to spend more, the Tefal FV5640G0 Turbo Pro (£70) has a removable scale collector in its heel.

Our tests have found that not all of these measures work as well as they should, so we rate them for how well their descaling instructions work. Check our steam iron reviews to find one that lasts.

Make ironing easier

If you’re not keen on ironing, it’s worth making sure it’s as simple as possible. Choose a handle that feels good in your hand – try it for size in the shop if you can. A soleplate with a thin, tapered tip that fits under buttons will make life easier if you regularly tackle piles of shirts, while a water tank with clear sides means you’ll know when to top up.

If you have a lot of laundry to get through, consider a steam generator. These can pump out more steam than an iron and don’t have to be topped up as frequently. We’ve just tested the Morphy Richards Jet Steam 333021 generator (£60), which costs less than some irons, and steams for well over an hour on a full tank. Soft rubber inserts in the handle make it comfortable to use for long periods.

 Latest steam generator and steam iron reviews

Follow the links below to read full reviews for the 15 irons and steam generators we’ve just tested and reviewed:

Steam irons

Steam generators

Prices are correct as of November 2017.

* Survey in Oct 2016, published Feb 2017.

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